Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My New Digs: The Puppy

So I've already made it clear that I love my apartment but the "make-or-break" issue is the volume level of my neighbours across the wall. They're quiet so I'm not constantly disturbed...but if they were loud I'd need to leave.

Today I got home -- bad mood, high blood sugar, big pores -- and entered my front door. Instantly I heard the incessant, punctuated yapping of a very small dog next door. Barking and barking and barking. For fifteen minutes. Sounding as though it were sitting right at my feet.

I went into panic mode. This was it. My neighbours got a puppy which can't handle being left alone. Time to move.

When I'm this upset (panicked, actually) I feel the need to take INSTANT action. I feel like if I just sit and wait awhile I'll literally explode. Since my neighbours weren't home, I called one of the landlords and basically tattled. I didn't consciously INTEND to tattle; what I really wanted to know was whether they knew if the dog was a temporary thing -- like, were they dog-sitting for a week? -- or if this was going to be a daily issue. I said I couldn't handle a yapping dog. The landlord was annoyed that the dog arrived without them being told. He said he'd take it up with the other landlords. I hung up the phone and realized: jeez, I just ratted on my neighbours without even giving them a chance to explain themselves, I've maybe just started a WAR.

So I sat on my couch, twitching. I leafed through a book ("Pictures Showing What Happens On Every Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow") without actually paying attention to it. One of the neighbours came home. I didn't hear the dog, I didn't hear the phone ring. I agonized and agonized and agonized.

I called the landlord back and implored him to PLEASE not address the issue. I said that I'd like to wait and see if it continues to be a problem, and that if I felt it was a problem I'd talk to them myself first. I feel that's the responsible, adult, considerate, and most effective thing to do. He agreed, and I was relieved, but I couldn't help thinking that they'd end up telling my neighbour I was a tattle-tale eventually. How could the landlords pretend to not know about a dog that the tenant isn't supposed to have?

Later, lying on the couch and reading "Elmer Gantry" (and no longer twitching), my neighbour knocked on my door. She wanted to tell me that she'd bought a puppy, and for illustrative purposes she actually brought the puppy over, and it's one of those small dogs with elastics in its hair. She apologized about the dog barking that morning, which I hadn't heard because I wasn't home at the time. She said that she wanted to give the dog a chance to calm down, but that she would give it up if it was a problem, and if I was EVER bothered about it I should go over and tell her right away, and she also said she felt bad for not telling me the day before.

I confessed, standing in my kitchen in a bathrobe and with white pore minimizer all over my swollen nose. I told her I'd called the landlord in a panic but I'd told him I'd only follow up if it was a problem. She was a bit unnerved but understood that I'd been listening to the mystery dog barking. I said that I understood that dogs get lonely, but most of them can be taught not to bark when they're lonely, and I hoped that would be the case. I also told her that I REALLY appreciated her telling me about it, and that knowing she was open to complaints would make it MUCH easier to tolerate any barking in the future. I also, for some reason, offered to walk the dog occasionally. I suppose this was due to guilt about telling the landlords.

Happy ending? Well, I probably sounded a little nuts, and I still feel slimy (a feeling that I either need to "own" or to justify by saying "she should have told me earlier") but it was definitely an establishment of an "open door policy" for any issues we might have. It's my firm belief that western countries need an informal ritual: after living beside each other for six weeks, new neighbours should get drunk together and talk about their hopes and concerns. It would make ME happier, and I'd spend less time sitting and brooding and twitching.

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